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Fodder farming, a prerequisite to sustainable dairy farming- soil analyst

A good number of farmers in Murang’a County and countrywide have ventured into dairy farming as their main economic activity and with it comes the need to embrace sustainable dairy farming by using fodder that is easier to grow and preserve for the day of scarcity.

The fodder should also offer all the nutrients to the animals for maximum yields as feeds contribute up to 60 percent of a farmer’s success.

Soil analyst and Fadhili Africa Ltd co-founder Bernard Ndung’u urged dairy farmers to adopt fodders that offer more balanced ration which in turn will promote faster growth and higher productivity in their animals.

“Choose fodder that is sustainable, noting that majority regenerate after cut and still have fast maturity and easier establishment,” he said, adding that some of the fodders a dairy farmer can consider include Napier grass, maize, desmodium, Rhode grass, and sorghum.

“Nappier grass which is mainly planted through stem cuttings or split is drought resistant, is easily propagated and has high crude protein and fiber for good palatability depending on the stage of growth,” he observed.

Ndung’u said that currently there is a superior variety of the nappier grass known as such as Pakchong 1.

“Packchong 1, also known as super Napier is a hybrid obtained by crossing the ordinary nappier with pearl millet and is preferred because it is fast growing, highly vegetative, with a protein content of 18 percent which is double the amount of protein in ordinary Napier,” he added.

Ndung’u said moreover, Nappier grass as fodder can be chopped or stored as a whole during the utilization stage.

The Fadhili Africa Ltd co-founder noted that farmers can also plant Maize and use it as fodder as it has proven to be a superior crop to most dairy farmers as most of them use it for silage making or for storage as dry fodder.

“Small-scale farmers can secure silage bags which they can use to prepare the silage from maize and preserve it for the day of scarcity while maintaining the nutritional content,” he said.

“Additionally, farmers can consider the Desmodium which is a leguminous crop and can be integrated with other fodder crops and have a maturity period of 3-4 months,” he added.

“While the desmodium has high crude protein levels and is rich in minerals and vitamins, they also improve soil fertility through nitrogen fixation and have the ability to repel some pests and parasitic weeds such as striga,” said Ndung’u.

He said that Sorghum and Rhode grass are perennial grasses whose stem is fine and leafy, with heights ranging between 0.5 and 2 meters high, and are most preferred for haymaking for sale and storage to use during scarcity.

Ndung’u said farmers should ensure they select certified planting materials and incorporate testing their soil to get the right information and right recommendation to avoid perennial losses.

By Florence Kinyua

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